October 22, 2004

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

2-i.The 4th century B.C.E. Phlyakes vases from the south of Italy show temporary wooden stages which we believe are similar or identical to those that would have been used for comic performance in the 5th century B.C.E. How adequate or appropriate would such a stage have been for the performance of tragedy in the 5th century B.C.E., in particular the Eumenides?

2 i) The Phlyakes Stages depicted in the Italian vases, is little more than a wooden platform, with a back wall and door. However for the performance of Greek tragedy this type of stage would have more than likely been adequate. There were often only 3 main actors in a Greek tragedy, each playing all the roles, there was also a chorus (normally present on stage throughout the play). The Phlyakes stage offers a place for the performer to change costume. The raised stage allows the audience to see the performers clearly.
The only problem with this type of stage may have been the space. With a chorus of up to 15, plus the elaborate costumes and large helmet-like masks, the stage may have become quite cramped. For example, during Eumenides, when the Furies are on stage, and when the court is being held to decided the fate of Orestes.

ii. Where could Klytemnestra, Apollo and Orestes have performed in the opening scene of the play?

iii. Where could the chorus have performed?

The chorus may have been able to perform off stage or along the front of the stage, only moving on to the stage for long speeches this would also give a feel of the chorus representing the common people of Athens (particularly in the Court of the Areopagus).

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